I think some people who are new at recording may think that men show
up to recording sessions in tuxedos and ladies in gowns and 4 minutes
later, they have a new hit single. That might work for a few, but
not many. I recall seeing a Tina Turner movie where she was doing
so many takes she was exhausted, and also saw Michael Jackson in a
documentary again being exhausted from so many "takes". That I
think is closer to real life. Well, how many "takes" here?
First of all, what I said above about singers was the vocal part.
One must also add two more parts to be a one piece band - the band
itself and the mix down business.
For a band backup, I generally do all or most of it using "midi".
But still, that takes many takes. Since the band is midi and
therefore a data file, I would instead count the number of file saves
when I added or did something very different. The numbers of file
saves range from about 25 minimum to 50 or so. Sometimes on a
save, I added an instrument, or fixed a section, or perhaps I
orchestrated it to set up varying volumes during the song, and also
reverb, chorus, panning (amount to left or right speaker) for each piece
and more. When done with the band, if there is to be a vocal, I
add lyrics onto the midi band file in order to make it easy for me such
that I have big letters to see when doing the vocal on playback.
I then put the midi left and right channel into a multi channel
recorder. For a third input, I am ready with a microphone that is
attached to a mixer and sound effects. For vocals I might do
anywhere from 3 to 10 takes. A person could argue that I should do
more, but that is about where I am at. I also listen to each vocal
"take" to give myself an opinion of whether or not I could do better.
And if I decide that I am capable of "better" I will do another "take"
at sometimes in the future. However, I may do "takes" on different
days since I find it takes a bit of effort. I am learning that one
must be ready to do it, and then concentrate on every word, every
syllable and every ending. And so if a "take" is no good, I will
often shelve it and do it another day when I am more fresh.
THE MIX DOWNS
When the left and right channel of the midi plus at least one added
third track for vocals are added to the multi channel recorder, that is
time to add more vocals or live guitars or the like. But when
done, of course 3 to 16 channels are not normal in music, and so one
must "Mix Down" the multiple channels into a two channel stereo output.
That for me means headphones and very careful monitoring of the audio
levels. And generally it also means the vocals should be louder in
volume than the band in order to be distinct, but of course not too much
out on their own. There are also many settings during mix down -
the amount for each track to go to the right or left stereo speaker when
all done, any equalization, any amount of added reverb or chorus, any
amount of guitar settings for a live audio guitar track, and often more.
All of that must be fairly close to exact. Needless to say I find
even if everything else was done well, it takes me multiple mix-down
attempts, perhaps an average of 3, but sometimes 6, to get the output I
After mix down, everything else mostly just becomes "things to do".
The music mix down output is in a wav format, that could be directly
used to make a CD. And of course I have programs that can make mp3
or m4a versions of it to those who may want to hear it. But once
in "wav" format after distribution, the rest is just busy work.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Yes, much work. But then again, what hobby would not be fun or
enjoyable if it had no effort and nothing that could go wrong. And
I continue to learn. Each song I do I find I learned things I did
not know even a song or two ago. But no, that does not mean I am
going to go back and redo 50 songs ha ha. But yes when all done
with something you like, it is enjoyable to listen to. I imagine
painters like to look at their paintings as well, and I would imagine
George Lucas has a room at home where he views his movies. This is
at a lower level than those people, but still something that can make
you feel good - after perhaps an average of 40 takes.
BUT... THINGS APPEAR FASTER
One could say that some of my songs appear one day after the last one
or even the same day. How could I do that if it takes me 40 takes?
And the answer is that I always seem to have some songs partially done,
perhaps even as many as 25 songs, but even more I want to do and have
done some thinking on. So many times, I am not starting from the
beginning since I may have done that long ago, but perhaps starting in
the middle or even close to the end.
Thanks for reading this ...
more information, far more in a book I am writing called
"Becoming A One Person Band"
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